YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – York City council voted Tuesday to allow the fire department to bill for its services.
“Expenses are extremely high and we’re just trying to recoup some of that,” Fire Chief Chad Deardorff said. “This will be directly billed to the insurance company. No property owner will be sent an invoice.”
The vote to approve the proposal allows the department to bill an insurance company for a host of services, things like engines, aerial ladders, foam or power tools. Deardorff believes it’s an easy way to generate revenue that currently goes uncollected.
He says for two hours of firefighting service, fuel and personnel, it costs the department anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000.
“We are not billing any taxpayer. Any taxpayer will not receive a bill,” said Deardorff.
Here’s how it works: after a call, third-party Pennsylvania Fire Recovery Service will work on the department’s behalf to try and recoup costs associated with everyday emergency calls.
“[Pennsylvania Fire Recovery Service] has access to our records management which they will come through. They’ll pull out what is billable, allowed to be billed,” said Deardorff.
An approved billing list includes things like an engine at $350 an hour and an aerial ladder at $400 an hour. There are smaller things, too, like hoses at $25 per 50 feet and foam at $60 a gallon.
“They will be able to recoup some revenue that is not taxpayer money,” councilor Edquina Washington said. “I know that other cities and other municipalities have passed the ordinance and they’re utilizing the funds and it has worked great.”
Deardorff says any money the department earns back will help to maintain staff vehicles and/or buy new ones. Deardorff explains many insurance policies already have this sort of reimbursement built-in, and they’re just now legally going to be able to take advantage.
“It’s a part of an insurance policy … that’s actually designed to come back for services rendered,” Deardorff said.
Premiums should not be affected, Deardorff says, by any invoice submitted to insurance companies, which is part of the information that fire crews already gather during routine calls.
Deardorff estimates that the new initiative will help them bring in anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000 a year.